PMP Certification FAQ

pmp / pmbok guide faq 1

PMP Certification Exam

In additional to the Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential, PMI offers several certifications in project management and related fields, namely:

  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®) certification
  • PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP®) certification
  • PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP) credential
  • PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP) credential
  • Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP) credential
  • Program Management Professional (PgMP) credential

Of all the certifications offered by PMI, the PMP® Certification is the most popular.

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The short answer is: it depends.

There are PMP® aspirants who can finish preparing and pass the PMP® Exam in 2 weeks of full-time studying. At the other extreme, there are PMP® aspirants who need close to 1 year to be ready for the real PMP® Exam.

For the majority, it takes around 2 months with 3 hours of studying per day. That’s about 180 hours in total to be well-prepared for the PMP® Exam. The time includes the required 35 contact hours of online PMP® exam prep course / face-to-face classroom PMP® bootcamps (the actual time spent on the PMP® courses may be around 40-50 hours). You may take that as a reference to plan your PMP® Exam prep study.

Further reading: How Much Time, Effort and Money is Required for the PMP® Credential?

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No.

Application for PMP® Certification is honor-based, meaning that PMI trusts project management professional (PMP®) candidates to submit only truthful information about education and working experiences.

However, in order to ensure the quality of the PMP® Certification, PMI does include a random audit process, this is when PMP® applicants need to submit the supporting documents for:

Therefore, when you submit your PMP® application, you will not be asked to attach any supporting documents. Once you receive an audit email / message, you will need to submit copies of the certificate, experience verification forms, etc. through postage to PMI in order to complete your application.

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The PMP® application form consists of 4 major parts, the following describes what details are to be found on each part of the online form:

  1. You will need to enter your personal details, namely, your name and personal contact information in English. You can also specify how your name should be displayed on the Certificate. If you have applied for PMI Certification / PMI membership previously, most of the information is entered automatically for you.
  2. You will need to enter the highest level of education (i.e. degree or sub-degree) you have completed.
  3. This section is about your project management experience. You will need to enter a title for each project, the hours of experience spent in each of the domains of project management, your role, information about your supervisor / manager, etc. The best part about the online PMP® application form is that the total amount of project management hours is calculated automatically for you. For each project you have entered, you will need to write a short description (500 characters or below) of the project including specifically your role in the project.
  4. You will need to enter your project management education details (i.e. your 35 Contact Hours of project management education), including the provider, the title of course and the duration of the course.

Once you have started entering your information online, you have up to 90 days to finish the application process. The server of PMI will store your information during the period. You can come back at any time to amend / add information and submit the form. You will also be able to download a PDF copy of the PMP® application form with all the details filled in for record.

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  • Total no. of PMP® Exam questions: 200
    • 25 of which are pre-test questions, meaning that only 175 questions will be marked
    • but PMP® candidates will not know which 25 questions are not to be marked
    • when tested on computers (CBT)
      • 1 question will be displayed on each page
      • if a language aid is requested, the translated question and answer will be displayed below the original English question and answer on the same page
      • candidates can flag questions that they are not sure and revisit them later
  • Time allowed: 4 hours
    • candidates can stop the PMP® exam at any time to see their results
    • candidates can ask for bathroom rest during the 4 hours if needed
  • Question type: all multiple choice questions
    • only 1 correct answer out of 4 choices

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Language aids are a translation service offered by PMI for PMP® candidates whose mother tongue is not English. This service is offered for FREE.

The translated question and answers will be displayed below the original English question and answers on the same page for computer based testing (CBT).

Language aids must be requested during:

  • online payment for the PMP® application; OR
  • in the printed PMP® application form

Currently, PMI provides language aids for the PMP® Exam in the following languages:

  • Arabic
  • Hebrew
  • Brazilian Portuguese
  • Italian
  • Chinese (Simplified)
  • Chinese (Traditional)
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • French
  • Russian
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Turkish

PMI treats candidates equally whether they have made use of language aids or not. There is no indications in the PMP® Certificate or on the online registry about when language aids are used.

Therefore, it is advisable to make use of a language aid for your PMP® Exam if your mother tongue is not English.

Further reading: Using PMP® Exam Language Aids for the PMP® Certification

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PMI asks PMP® / PMP®-ACP candidates to gather all the audit documents (including certificates and sealed experience verification envelopes) in one package and send the package by mail or express courier back to:

PMI Global Operations Center
(Attn: Certification Audit)
14 Campus Blvd., Newtown Square, PA 19073-3299 USA

Partial / Incomplete submission of audit documents will result in automatic fail of the PMI audit.

It will take PMI 5 – 7 business days to clear the audit checking and an “audit pass” email will be sent to your email account once you have successfully cleared the audit. The email will contain information on how to book a PMP® / PMI-ACP® exam session with Prometric.

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No.

Whether your PMI audit result is successful or not, PMI will not return the audit package to the PMP® / PMI-ACP® applicant. Therefore, only photocopies of the certificates are required by PMI instead of the original ones.

PMI will need to retain the audit package according to its internal auditing procedures.

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Most PMP® would agree that the PMP® Exam is difficult for the following reasons:

  • the PMP® Exam syllabus is broad and a bit vague – candidates cannot know for sure they have covered all the required materials
  • the PMI terminologies are a bit different from normal daily use, candidates need to learn all the terms by heart
  • the PMP® Exam lasts for 4 hours with 200 questions which is also a test of stamina
  • many PMP® exam questions are situational, candidates are required to select the best answer among several correct answers
  • common sense or industry experience, which makes perfectly sense in daily work, may be considered wrong in PMI’s eyes

You may try the official PMP® practice questions yourself to get a feeling of the type of questions to be asked on the exam paper.

The key to passing the PMP® Exam is to set a realistic exam prep timeframe and practice more full mock PMP® exams. Getting 75% or more in quality mock PMP® exams will give you the confidence that you will pass the real PMP® exam!

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By becoming a member of PMI, you will gain access to downloadable PDF file of the PMBOK® Guide (5th edition) for FREE (the retail price of the PMBOK® Guide ebook is US$39.90). You are also allowed to print out a copy of the PMBOK® Guide for your personal use / exam prep.

PMI takes copyright infringement very seriously (as willful copyright infringement is a violation of the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct which may result in suspending of the PMI Certificate credentials). The downloaded PMBOK® Guide PDF is password protected and watermarked with the PMI membership number of the one who download it. And therefore it is unlikely to find FREELY available PMBOK® Guide PDF files on the internet.

Alternatively, you can also purchase a printed copy of the PMBOK® Guide (5th edition) from Amazon for US$39.89 which is lower than the official price of US$49.50 as listed on the online store of PMI website.

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From a survey of over 100+ PMP® credential holders who passed their PMP® Exam with flying colors, it can be concluded that, in addition to the PMBOK® Guide, the following three PMP® exam prep study guides are the most popular ones:

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You may like to click on the book covers above to take a preview of the PMP® books at Amazon!

Further reading: PMP® Study Resources: PMBOK® Guide, PMP® Guide plus Practice Exams

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PMP® Exam simulators, as the name implies, are simulated exam environments for PMP® aspirants to try practicing taking PMP® Exam with mock exam questions. The interface of the PMP® Exam simulators resembles the real PMP® Exam screen of CBT and therefore it will give PMP® aspirants realistic first-hand experience of what the actual PMP® Exam is like before actually taking the exam.

PMP® Exam simulators are a good addition to your PMP® Exam prep materials for the following reasons:

  • since the real PMP® exam lasts for 4 hours, you may want to try taking a PMP® mock exam on PMP® Exam simulators in order to understand your stamina and concentration span in order to help your plan ahead how much time to spend on each question and when to take breaks
  • as PMP® Exam simulators resemble the actual exam environment, it will give you the much needed rehearsal before the real exam
  • from the experience of hundreds of thousands of PMP® candidates, your score in PMP® Exam simulators is a good indicator of your performance in the real PMP® Exam
  • PMP® Exam simulators can identify your weak areas in terms of knowledge groups or process groups so that you can concentrate your efforts of those knowledge gaps

It cannot be stressed enough that every PMP® aspirant should try at least 1 full 200-question mock PMP® Exam in an exam simulator in order to prepare well for the actual exam. You do not need to worry about breaking your bank (again!), you can actually get FREE PMP® exam simulators online.

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ITTO is an acronym for ‘Inputs, Tools & Techniques and Outputs’. In the PMBOK® Guide, the project management processes are methodologically organized into “Knowledge Areas” and “Processes”. Each “Process” is then described in terms ‘Inputs, Tools & Techniques and Outputs’. Altogether, there are 600+ ITTO in all the project management processes.

Many PMP® aspirants have the queries that “how I can memorize all the 600+ ITTO”. The short answer is you need not. The PMP® Exam is not a test of your memory but rather a test of your skills and judgement in applying project management knowledge. Memorizing all ‘ITTO’ is not required at all (unless you are sitting for the CAPM® Certification).

After reading through the PMBOK® Guide twice or more, you should have a fairly firm foundation on knowing the important ITTO and understand the relationship between the different processes and the flow of ITTO (output of a process will become input of another process). That would be enough for tackling most questions of the PMP® Exam. There are actually just a few or even none questions asking you directly which is the ITTO for a certain process to be found on the real PMP® Exam.

Having said that, if you have a strong memory, it is still advisable to memorize some ITTO in case you can get one or two more questions correctly.

Further reading: Do I need to memorize PMP® ITTO?

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First and foremost, the PMP® or PMI-ACP® candidate is not able to proceed with the certification application and examination. The certification fee paid will be refunded (with the subtraction of the processing fee).

There may be some follow-up actions by the PMI depending on the cause of failure of the PMI audit:

  • if the audit fail is due to incomplete information (including the documents are sent to PMI in more than 1 package), no action may be taken by PMI, but the candidate will only be able to reapply to the certification 1 year later;
  • if the fail is due to fraudulent information, PMI may take disciplinary actions (including banning from application to PMI certification for life) to the candidate in question as PMI takes integrity very seriously.

Therefore, when submitting the PMP® application / PMI-ACP® application, always make sure you are entering truthful information. Honest is the best policy.

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If you decide NOT to proceed with the PMI Audit for whatever reasons, e.g. time clashes, supervisor disagreed with your claimed time, personal issues, etc., you need not do anything. PMI considers it an automatic audit fail if it does not receive your audit package within 90 days of the notice of PMI Audit.

Ultimately, PMI will refund the examination fee you have paid, minus the processing fee.

You will be able to apply again for the PMP® Certification / PMI-ACP® Certification one year after your original PMP® application / PMI-ACP® application submission date. But you should note that your application will be subject to a PMI Audit again.

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For most PMP® candidates (i.e. by computer based testing), PMP® Exams must be taken in a designated exam centre administered by Prometric. There is no need to pay the exam fee at Prometric website as the payment is made during the PMP® application process. You can make / amend booking for exam appointments online through the Prometric website.

You may locate the nearest PMP® exam centre in your area through the following link:

https://www.prometric.com/en-us/clients/PMI/Pages/landing.aspx 

Note: Please note that though both PMP® and PMI-ACP® Certification exams are to be booked through Prometric, the exam centres maybe DIFFERENT. This is because PMP® Exams are more rigorous in its requirement for security and confidentiality and therefore PMP® Exam centres are more limited in choices than PMI-ACP® Exam centres.

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According to the history of PMBOK® Guide, PMI would release an update version of the PMBOK® Guide every 4 to 5 years.

Currently the most current PMBOK® Guide update was on December 2012. PMI has just announced that the PMBOK® Guide 6 will be released at around the following schedule:

  • 1st quarter of 2017 for draft release
  • 3rd quarter of 2017 for the final release

PMI will allow current PMP® aspirants to continue taking the PMP® Exam based on the current version of the PMBOK® Guide for up to half a year. That means the new PMP® Exam update to be based on PMBOK® Guide 6th edition is in the first quarter of 2018. Therefore it is safe to begin your PMP® Exam preparation based on PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition as of now. PMP® Certification Aspirants will only have to study for the PMP® Exam based on PMBOK® Guide 6 if they begin their studies after 2017.

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It depends. But with a clever strategy, everyone should be able to finish the PMP® Exam in 4 hours.

Some PMP® candidates claimed to be able to finish the 200 questions in 2 hours while some cannot even finish all questions in the 4-hour slot allowed for the PMP® Exam.

On average, you can spend around 1 min 12 seconds for each PMP® question. Of course, some questions are the long situational types which would require you more than 2 minutes to finish reading in details but others are short 1-liner asking you for simple facts. What’s more, there are some “pre-test” questions which will NOT be marked towards your final PMP® Exam score, and these questions are usually the “more difficult” ones.

Bear in mind that each PMP® Exam question carries equal marks and you will NOT get a penalty for guessing a wrong answer. Don’t just go for a single tree when you can have the forest. It is advisable to keep your pace by answering 1 PMP® question in 1 min at most. When time is up, you can just select an answer, mark it for review and carry onto the next question.

When you still have time after finishing all the 200 PMP® questions, you can go back to the ‘marked’ questions to review the answers then.

Having said that, it is considered absolutely necessary to test out your PMP® Exam strategy by practicing several full 200-questions PMP® practice Exams before attempting the real one to make sure you are accustomed to the exam strategy and it really works for you. You can also test out your stamina and plan appropriate breaks during the 4 hours.

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Yes, since the PMP® Exam is not a test about your mechanical calculation skills, you are allowed to use a calculator during the PMP® Exam.

However, there is a high probability that you are NOT allowed to bring your own calculator (depending on which PMP® Exam centre you are sitting the exam). The PMP® Exam centre will provide the calculator for you, and in most cases, the calculator is an online calculator application rather than a real calculator. There is a button on every page of the PMP® Exam questions for your to call out the calculator, it is a simple calculator allowing you to do simple mathematics. You can hide the calculator if not needed to avoid distractions.

Worrying about not knowing how to use the calculator application? PMI has included a tutorial session before the beginning of the PMI Exam to let you test out how to make use of the calculator correctly.

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Sure. If you are able to finish all the PMP® Exam questions and confidently enough that you have answered them correctly, you can end the PMP® Exam at any time after the beginning of the exam. If you test on the computer, you just need to press the “End Exam” button at the last PMP® Exam paper screen. You will then be asked to fill in a questionnaire about your PMP® Exam experience, which you can skip if in a hurry. After half a minute or so, you will be presented with your PMP® Exam results.

You can then officially end the PMP® Exam by pressing the ‘End’ button and walk out of the exam room. The exam centre staff will print out an official PMP® Exam score card for your (should be with the centre chop). Do keep the official score card before receiving your PMP® Certificate as this is the only proof you would have if there is any (though not likely) technical errors during the transmission of your PMP® Exam results.

Please note that if just want to walk out of the exam room for a break, you would not need to ‘end’ or ‘stop’ the PMP® Exam. The time is tickling while you are away as the PMP® Exam does not provide official breaks. You need to take the break with your own exam time. There is no limits on how many times you take breaks, but beware that every time you would like to walk back to the exam room, you will need to undergo the same strict security procedures (including taking out all your pockets for inspections).

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For the CBT (taking the PMP® Exam on computers) exam-takers, PMP® Exam rescheduling is FREE provided that you make the request online at least 30 days before your scheduled day. You can make the change of PMP® Exam appointment time online at Prometric website. You can cancel your appointment if you cannot find another time for your PMP® Exam for the time being.

Otherwise, you will need to pay US$70 between 30 days and 2 days before the exam.

You are not allowed to reschedule the PMP® Exam within 24 hours of the scheduled time. You can still cancel your appointment to avoid an automatic fail in your PMP® Exam, however your PMP® application fee will be forfeited and you will need to pay the re-examination fee in order to sit for the PMP® Exam again.

If you do not cancel the PMP® Exam booking and you do not show up at the scheduled time, you will be automatically considered fail (though there are some exceptions for special reasons, e.g. personal emergencies). You will need to apply and pay for the PMP® re-examination and schedule another time for the PMP® Exam. However, you will have 1 re-examination opportunity left if you fail this time.

For PBT (taking the PMP® Exam on papers) exam-takers, you will need to reschedule 35 days before the scheduled exam by sending an email to pbtexams@pmi.org

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Don’t be late for the PMP® Exam. Arrive at the PMP® Exam center at least 15 minutes earlier than the scheduled time. If you are late, the worst case is that you may be denied entry to the PMP® Exam room. In such case, a ‘no-show’ status is implied, resulting in a fail for the PMP® Exam. You will need to pay for the re-examination fee and re-schedule another timeslot for the exam.

However, some PMP® Exam centers will exercise discretionary power to allow you to sit for the PMP® Exam even though you are late (maybe probably for several minutes). But don’t count on that as this is different for different PMP® Exam centers. It is therefore advisable to mark down the telephone number of your PMP® Exam centre and ask for their policies once you have the feeling that you will be late for the exam.

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The short answer is “unknown”. PMI does not disclose the passing score nor how many questions a PMP® candidate answers correctly (only the proficiency level in different domains) for quite a time.

You would have read from different websites about the PMP® Exam passing score. Some would proclaimed that the PMP® passing score is 61%. You can be assured that the information is obsolete (or even wrong) now. Yes, PMI published the “Frequently Asked Questions regarding the new PMP® Examination” in the year 2005 (over ten years ago), which contained the PMP® Exam passing score (106 out of 175 = ~61%).

A few years later, the PMP® Exam adopts a new structure by incorporating ‘sound psychometric analysis’. Also the passing score is determined candidate by candidate on the overall difficulty level of the PMP® Exam questions in the PMP® Exam paper. Since no two CBT candidates receive exactly the same PMP® Exam paper and therefore the passing score is considered irrelevant in determining whether a candidate can pass the PMP® Exam or not.

Therefore, don’t rely on the “61% passing score”. You should aim at at least 75% – 80% for all the PMP® Mock Exams you attempt in order to make sure you can pass the actual PMP® Exam.

Further reading: What is the Passing Score of PMP® Exam?

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According to Wikipedia,

Orders of magnitude are written in powers of 10. For example, the order of magnitude of 1500 is 3, since 1500 may be written as 1.5 × 103.

In the PMP® Exam (and according to the PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition), there are two kinds of estimates:

  • Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) estimate = -25% to +75%
    (note: in PMBOK® Guide 4th Edition the Rough Order of Magnitude is -50% to +50%)
  • Definitive estimate = -5% to +10%

The accuracy of the estimates will increase as the project proceeds through the project lifecycle, i.e. from the rough order of magnitude estimates (ROM) in an early phrase to definitive estimates in a later phrase. The percentage range of rough order of magnitude estimates is listed for reference only as the actual range maybe determined through organization accounting policies, etc.

It is, therefore, not important to know exactly what the percentage range of the estimates. Understanding that the rough order of magnitude (ROM) estimate is much more inaccurate than the definitive estimate is enough for the PMP® Exam.

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PMP® Exam Simulators are simulated examination environments for PMP® aspirants to try taking the exam before the actual PMP® Exam for PMP® candidates of the computer-based test (CBT).

These are usually online applications which allows PMP® aspirants to take full length 200-question PMP® exams in an interface that resembles that of the real PMP® exam with a timer counting down from 4 hours.

The PMP® exam simulators allow PMP® aspirants to get accustomed to the PMP® Exam environment before the actual so that they can focus on the exam questions in the real PMP® Exam without worrying about how to deal with the various instructions of the exam interface.

After each attempt, the exam simulators will also provide a detailed report on the performance of different PMP® topics. PMP® aspirants can look for the explanations of those incorrect questions and understand why they get it wrong. They can also focus their studies on the weak areas in order to improve the overall performance.

The PMP® exam simulators are just like giving you unlimited times to take the PMP® exam without having to pay the re-examination fee.

There are currently some FREE and paid PMP® exam simulators on the internet. Every PMP® aspirant should take advantage of the exam simulators for their PMP® success.

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PMP® Certification Aspirants are requested to bring the following items to the PMP® Exam center for taking the PMP® Exam as an identity identification:

  • Two forms of identification (the name should be identical that on the application form):
    • a valid government-issued identification with candidate’s name, photograph and signature, e.g. passport, driver’s license, identity card
    • another valid secondary identification bearing the candidate’s name, photograph and/or signature, e.g. employee ID, bank card, credit card.

You may need to bring along a jacket or sweater as the exam centre may be cold.

The followings are generally recommended to bring along to the PMP® Exam centre:

  • A printed copy of the exam confirmation email from Prometric or the booking confirmation number
  • Water or energy drink
  • Finger food or snacks

These cannot be brought into the exam room and should be put into the locker provided at the PMP® Exam centre.

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For most PMP® candidates, four hours are enough to finish the 200 PMP® questions on the PMP® Exam. Some candidates can even finish the exam in 3 hours.

On average, PMP® candidates can have 1 minute 12 seconds to answer each PMP® question. This is more than enough for most shorter questions. However, there are some situational questions which are much longer that may require more time to read and tackle.

In general, it is advised to spend 1 minute on each question. If you have spent more than 2 minutes on a question, do select an answer (even if you are just guessing), mark it for review and go on.

In this way, you will be able to finish the 200 PMP® questions in 4 hours.

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For PMP® aspirants taking the computer-based testing (CBT), the confirmation email on your PMP® application after you have successfully paid the PMP® exam fee or completed the PMP® audit will include the “PMI Eligibility ID” and the “Eligibility Expiration Date” for you to schedule your PMP® Exam.

You can find the link to schedule the PMP® Exam on Prometric webpage below:

http://www.prometric.com/pmi 

In the section labeled “I want to…”, you will need to select the right side (i.e. for PMP® candidates). Then you can follow the instructions online to continue finding a location for your PMP® Exam centre and book a session for your exam. You will need to have your PMI Eligibility ID with you while you are making the booking.

Once you have successfully booked the PMP® Exam session, you will receive a 10 digit unique confirmation number. This confirmation number is needed if you would need to reschedule your exam date and venue. You may consult the PMI Exam Scheduling Instructions or further enquires about how to schedule your PMP® exam on Prometric.

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Yes. For PMP® candidates taking the computer based test (CBT) Exam , there is no limit on the number of times to reschedule the PMP® Exam.

If the scheduled exam date is 30 days away or more, there is no rescheduling fee (i.e. it is free to reschedule your PMP® Exam as many times as you like). However, if the PMP® exam is within 30 days and more than 48 hours away, you will have to pay for the rescheduling (currently US$70).

You are not allowed to reschedule the PMP® Exam when it is within 48 hours of the scheduled time. That means you will be considered no-show if you cannot attend the PMP® Exam on the scheduled time (except in emergency cases). This essentially means that you have failed the PMP® Exam. You will need to pay the re-exam fee to sit for the PMP® Exam again (note that PMP® aspirants can sit for the PMP® Exam for a maximum of 3 times within the eligibility period).

To reschedule your exam, the most convenient way is to visit the Prometric website.

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For each set of 200 PMP® Exam questions, only 175 will be counted towards your final score. The rest 25 questions are termed as “pretest questions” according to PMI.

Pretest questions can be considered as “trial” questions which are used to gather statistical information on the “validity” of the question. If the performance of the PMP® candidates on a pretest question is in accordance with normal distribution, PMI will consider adding the question to the PMP® question bank for the real PMP® exam.

Otherwise, should too many or too few candidates are able to answer the pretest question correctly, the quality of the pretest question is in doubt and would probably not to be included in the real PMP® exam.

What has “pretest questions” to do with PMP® candidates?

PMP® candidates are affected by the pretest questions in the following way:

  • Since pretest questions are distributed randomly in the set of PMP® questions, PMP® candidates will have no way to determine whether a question is “real” or “pre-test”.
  • If many of the “pre-test” questions are too difficult to answer, this may adversely affect the psychological state and confidence of the candidate.
  • PMP® candidates may be tempted to spend too much time on the pre-test questions since some pre-test questions are not constructed clearly.

My recommendation is to prepare well for the PMP® Exam and ignore those “out-of-syllabus” questions by guessing the answer and move forward. Don’t be discouraged if many “out-of-syllabus” questions appear in a row or at the beginning of the exam. I personally encountered 5 to 6 difficult questions out of the first 10 questions of my PMP® Exam and yet I could pass the exam in the first try. Remember to keep your cool and move on!

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No.

The PMP® Certificate contains just the following information:

  • Your  name
  • Your PMP® number
  • The original date of getting the PMP® Certificate (i.e. the date you pass the PMP® Exam)
  • The expiry date of the certificate

Your proficiency levels in the project management process groups nor your score on the PMP® Exam will not be shown. There is no way to find out your performance on the PMP® Exam. In the past, you can get the PMP® Exam report card online in your PMP® profile, however, the report card has been deleted from the PMI website now.

So for the PMP® Exam, a pass is a pass. There are candidates who got even two below proficient rating yet they can pass the PMP® Exam. As PMI has stated it clearly, the proficiency levels are a means to show you which areas of project management knowledge you are advised to concentrate your efforts to brush up in the future.

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Contrary to the popular belief that the PMP® Exam is based on the PMBOK® Guide, the exam syllabus for the PMP® Exam is actually described in the PMP® Examination Content Outline.

While the current edition of the PMBOK® Guide was published in 2013 (and thus it will be another 2 to 3 years to welcome the PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition), the current edition of the PMP® Examination Content Outline was published in 2010 and has been in use for almost 5 years.

As a normal practice, PMI updates the PMP® Examination Content Outline every 5 years or so in order to reflect the latest changes in the project management world (the previous PMP® Examination Content Outline was published in 2005 and superseded in 2010). Therefore it is expected that PMI will announce an updated version of the Content Outline in the summer of 2015, though PMI has not made the announcement yet.

It is advisable to prepare and take the PMP® Exam as soon as possible as there are lots of PMP® Exam prep materials / study guides / courses on the market currently. Some of which are time-tested over the past 5 years to cover all the current PMP® Exam syllabus. However, with the new PMP® Examination Content Outline published, all the PMP® Exam prep materials will become obsolete and it is hard to find materials that cover all of the new syllabus in the first half year or so.

Note: PMI has announced the change of the PMP® PDU requirements which would be effective from December 2015. The change will affect all PMP®s who achieves the PMP® Certification within the year. You may wish to familiarize yourself with the new PDU requirements in preparation for the change.

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It really depends.

Different people will have different levels of project management knowledge and experiences and it is hard to give a concrete figure on the number of hours required to prepare well for the PMP® Exam. And more importantly, it depends on how well you want to achieve in the PMP® Certification Exam. Some people just aim at an overall pass in the exam while others would like to get all “proficient” levels in the domains.

Lessons learned from successful PMP® Exam takers can shield some lights on the question. A recent survey of 100 PMP® who successfully passed the PMP® exam may give us some hints on how many hours are needed. As expected, the PMP® Exam preparation time varies greatly for different PMP® aspirants. One candidate just took a week’s off to prepare and pass the PMP® Exam. Some took over 6 months of study before passing the PMP® Exam. One even took 2 years to fully prepare for the exam. Just like any other surveys, the average time required for PMP® Exam preparation is a good starting point for PMP® aspirants to start planning their own PMP® Exam study plan.

Most PMP® aspirants spend around 2 months on PMP® preparation for 3 hours of studies every day. That means, it normally takes around 180 hours of studies to prepare well for and pass the PMP® Exam.

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In general, one hour of engaging in education/development/service will gain you one PDU for your PMP® / PMI-ACP® re-certification.

You will need to report PDU in increments of 1 PDU except for Category A and B PDUs. If you earn your PDU through Courses offered by PMI’s R.E.P.s, chapters and communities (Category A) or Continuing Education (Category B), you will be able to report the PDU in quarterly increments (i.e. 0.25, 0.5, 0.75 or 1 PDU).

The quarterly increments of PDU reporting is very important for the new PDU requirements to be implemented in December 2015 as PDU activities will be categorized into the following three skills areas:

  • Technical Project Management [minimum 8 PDU]
  • Leadership [minimum 8 PDU]
  • Strategic and Business Management [minimum 8 PDU]

It is likely that one educational course in project management will touch upon more than 1 skill area and PMP® / PMI-ACP® Certification holders will needed to break up the PDUs into the skills areas in order to meet the new PDU reporting scheme and the minimum PDU requirement for each skills area.

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The ITTO (inputs, tools and techniques, outputs) of the PMBOK® Guide is by far one of the most “dreaded” question type of the PMP® Exam. It really takes a great memory to remember all the 600+ ITTOs from the PMBOK® Guide in the PMP® Exam preparation.

Many PMP® aspirants would surely ask themselves: should I remember all the ITTOs?

In my PMP® Exam, there are less than 4 questions about ITTOs (though as the PMP® Exam questions sets are different for different PMP® candidates, you may get more or less questions on ITTOs) – which is only 2% of all the PMP® Exam questions. Among those 4 ITTO questions I encountered, only one was asking directly about which is the ITTO for the process. The other three were just kind of related to ITTO, e.g. what would you use for a process at hand. The other questions on my PMP® Exam were mainly situational questions.

As a reference, I passed the PMP® Exam in Nov, 2013 (PMBOK® Guide 5th edition syllabus) with ‘Proficient’ in Initiation, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling and ‘Moderately Proficient’ in Closing domain.

As you can see, the PMP® Exam is more about than asking you to apply the project management concepts than to memorize all the facts from the PMP® Exam.

Further reading: PMP® ITTO mindmap – it is far more efficient to make use of mindmap to remember discrete facts such as ITTOs, this PMP® ITTO mindmap can be downloaded free!

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In additional to the ITTO questions, PMP® Maths formulas questions are generally considered to be the more difficult questions.

In my PMP® Exam question set, I got around 10 PMP® calculation questions in total (that is around 5% of all the questions). 5% is definitely not a significant number of questions for the PMP® Exam which has 200 questions.

If you are not comfortable with the PMP® Maths questions, it is advisable to just guess the answer, flag it for review and move on to the next question. Don’t spend more than the allocated time (around 2 minutes for each question) to the PMP® calculation questions as the Maths questions carry equal marks with other PMP® questions. When you still have time at the end of the PMP® Exam, you may spend more time with the Maths questions.

Plus, it is highly advisable to write down all the PMP® formulas at the beginning of the PMP® Exam as your PMP® Exam brain dump in order to offload your brain.

Further reading: PMP® Maths / Formulas Guide

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After submitting the PMP® Exam answers or the 4-hour exam period is over, PMP® candidates will be able to know their performance on the PMP® Exam immediately. The score card for PMP® Exam will include the proficiency levels (proficient, moderately proficient or below proficiency) for the 5 domains of project management knowledge as well as an overall pass / fail grade. The most important score for your PMP® Exam is the overall pass / fail grade.

If you get a “pass” even though many of the domains are “below proficiency”, you are still “certified” as PMP®. However, if you get a “fail” grade. You will need to retake the PMP® Exam, even though you have several “proficient” grades.

Every PMP® candidate is allowed up to 3 tries for the PMP® Exam for the 1-year eligibility period. If you failed the first or second time, you will receive an email from PMI asking you to re-take the PMP® Exam by submitting the re-exam fee. The re-exam email will come in several days after the PMP® Exam. You can then reschedule your next PMP® Exam session after the payment has been settled.

However, if you fail the third time, you will have to wait 1 year before you can re-apply for the PMP® Exam with all the details (just like the first time you applied for the PMP® Certification) and pass the PMI audit (if required). You will just like start anew with 3 tries for the 1-year eligibility period.

Some candidates, after failing twice on the PMP® Exam, will opt to wait until the 1-year eligibility period is over to reapply and get 3 tries immediately without having to wait 1 year for re-application.

Either way, once the PMP® candidates pass the PMP® Exam no matter how many times they have failed before, the PMP® certificate they receive will be exactly the same as others who pass the PMP® Exam with 1st try or 2nd try. The number of attempts for the PMP® Exam will not be recorded on the certificate nor on the online profile.

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Since PMI does not disclose any passing mark or passing rate for the PMP® Exam, no one knows the exact answer to this question.

But according to PMP® training organizations and study groups, it is estimated that the passing rate is about 60%-70%. The passing rate is certainly not too high as PMI tries to maintain the quality of PMP® Certification – only those who truly possess enough knowledge on project management will pass the PMP® Exam.

Therefore, the PMP® Exam is considered difficult according to most PMP® Exam candidates and should not be taken lightly. It takes an average of 180 hours to be well prepared for the PMP® Exam with the use of quality PMP® Exam prep materials.

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Just as the PMP® pass rate / failure rate, PMI does not disclose any data or information on the pass rate for attempting the PMP® Exam for the first time / first try. We can only make informed guesses from the statistics of PMP® training organizations and study groups.

Since the PMP® Exam is quite a difficult exam, the passing rate for first try is around 60% (i.e. 3 in 5 will pass the PMP® Exam the first time). PMI intentionally maintains the very high standard of the PMP® Exam and this is a major reason why the PMI PMP® Exam is a valuable certification to pursue. It is therefore advisable to spend more time and efforts in preparing for the PMP® Exam.

On average, successful PMP® Exam takers require around 180 hours of studies and they read the PMBOK® Guide at least once (more on the statistics 100+ PMP® lessons learned at pmexamlessonslearned.com).

But don’t worry too much, passing the PMP® Exam in first try is doable. Reading the PMP® Exam lessons learned from other PMP® candidates will help you understand the best and most suitable way for you to succeed in the exam. I personally pass the PMP® Exam the first time. Read my PMP® Exam experience to know my exam preparation and strategy. Wish you PMP® success!

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PMI does not publish any “official sample exam” for the PMP® Exam, there are only a couple “official PMP® sample questions” available on the PMI website. However, the questions do not allow PMP® candidates to really understand what the PMP® Exam looks like. Below are the facts about the PMP® Exam collected from my and others’ PMP® Exam experience:

  • The PMP® Exam consists of 200 multiple choice questions requiring you to choose 1 correct answer among 4 choices.
  • PMP® Candidates will need to answer the questions in 4 hours (maximum).
  • Among the 200 multiple choice questions, only 175 of them are the “actual” questions while 25 of them are “pre-test” questions (i.e. these questions are the new questions taking the PMP® Exam as a chance for quality checking and validation, once the questions pass the checking, they will eventually be put into the PMP® Exam questions bank).
  • A large percentage of the PMP® Exam questions are “situational” questions meaning that you will be presented with facts about a situation and asking you what is “the best course of action to follow”. These kinds of questions are usually quite long (4-5 lines).
  • Most PMP® candidates will sit for the CBT (computer based test) of the PMP® Exam in which the set of 200 questions are drawn from a large pool of question bank and no two PMP® Exam paper will consist of the identical set of questions.
    • If some candidates advise you to skip a part of the PMBOK® Guide as they did not encounter any questions on that part, DO NOT follow the advice since their sets of questions are NOT the same as your set of questions.
  • Candidates can mark any questions for review during the PMP® Exam.
  • There are many PMP® Exam simulators available on the internet which try to resemble the actual PMP® Exam environment and the level of difficult of the questions. You may take a look and try them to get a feeling what the PMP® Exam is like (many of these are free).
  • Usually, an onscreen calculator is included which can be used for PMP® calculation / formula questions.

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Yes, PMP® holders can apply for the PMP® re-certification once they have accumulated and reported 60 PMP® PDU anytime during the 3-year re-certification cycle.

You will receive an email from PMI asking you to renew your PMP® once 60 or above PMP® PDU have been accepted by PMI. By following the instructions on the email and paying the re-certification payment, you can complete the PMP® re-certification process any time you like. Your PMP® validity period will be extended by 3 years from the original expiry date of your PMP® certification (rest assured it is NOT the date of making payment). Your new PMP® certificate will arrive in 8 weeks by mail.

That means even if the PMP® holder has reported 60 PMP® PDU within the 1st year of becoming a PMP®, they are eligible to apply for re-certification. But if you continue to report PDU for the 2nd and 3rd year during your current PMP® re-certification cycle, the PMP® PDU will not be counted towards your next PMP® re-certification cycle (exception: half of the PDU reported in the 3rd year can be brought forward to the next PMP® cycle).

Therefore, it is advisable not to get or report over 60 PDU during the first two years of your PMP® re-certification cycle.

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If your PMP® certification is in good standing (i.e. you have passed the PMP® exam and follow the PDU requirements for the re-certification), your name will be included in the online certification registry of PMI certification holders at:

http://www.pmi.org/Certification/Credential-Registry.aspx

You can then click the “Search the PMI Online Certification Registry” and type in your last name (or plus full name, country and credential) to search for your certification status.

Likewise, you will be able to search for the certification information of other PMI certification holders by knowing their last name. This is the way to validate to authenticity of their certification status.

However, since the disclosure of information on the online registry is on a permission base, if the certification holders indicate unwillingness to share the information, you will not be able to find the information by search for the names of the PMI certification holders.

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ITIL® v3 Foundation and PMP® are two of the most popular project management certifications in the world. Every year, thousands of exam aspirants would prepare and sit for the ITIL® and PMP® exams. Some holders of PMP® would study for the ITIL® v3 Foundation Exam while some ITIL® holders would aspire for the PMP® credential. Below we will outline the similarities and differences between ITIL® and PMP®.

Similarities of ITIL® v3 Foundation  and PMP®

  • You will need to pass an exam consisting of multiple choice questions in order to be certified.
  • ITIL® and PMP® provide best practices to implement projects (though ITIL® focuses on projects in the Information Technology field).

Differences between ITIL® v3 Foundation and PMP®

  • PMP® exam is about general project management knowledge while ITIL® is about information technology service management (i.e. for people working in the field of information technology).
  • There are no pre-requisites for sitting the ITIL® v3 Foundation Exam while PMP® exam will require the aspirants to have 35 Contact Hours and at least 4500 hours of working experience in project management over a period of at least 3 years.
  • The PMP® Exam is much longer and consist of more questions, it is generally considered that the PMP® Exam is much more difficult than the ITIL® v3 Foundation Exam.
  • ITIL® v3 Foundation Certification will never expire while PMP® certification holders will need to re-certify every three years by accumulating enough PDUs.
  • PMP® Certification holders will need to earn at least 60 PDU during every 3-year re-certification cycle in order to be able to renew their PMP® Certification status. Holders of ITIL® v3 Foundation Certification will not need any mandatory continuous education.

ITIL® v3 Foundation and PMP®: Recommendation

If you have not began your journey on getting ITIL® v3 Foundation Certification and PMP® Certification, it is highly recommended you study for and pass the PMP® Exam first. Afterwards, you will be able to claim the time spent on studying and preparing for the ITIL® v3 Foundation Exam as PDU for your PMP® re-certification in either Category A or Category B PDU (by taking courses provided by accredited training institutes) or Category C PDU (by self study). In this way, one can kill two birds with a stone!

Best Discount (till 31 March 2017 only): 50% discount offer for GreyCampus ITIL® Foundation Training + Official Exam Fee!
ITIL® Aspirants can now get the ITIL® Foundation Training + Exam Fee for the price of US$600 US$300 (with coupon code) — possibly the lowest price one can ever find on the market (as the ITIL® Foundation Exam Fee alone is around US$250). Please click here to find my first-hand review of the online ITIL® Foundation course.

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Perhaps, this is the question every PMP® aspirants would probably have during their course of PMP® Exam preparation, especially while they are reading the PMBOK® Guide. Most PMP® candidates would agree that the PMBOK® Guide is way too boring for reading or studying. But since the PMBOK® Guide is published by the Project Management Institute (PMI) which is the authority behind the PMP® Exam, it is logical to consider the PMBOK® Guide as one of the most important reference book for the PMP® Exam.

It would be a great help if some authoritative voices would assure that they can pass the PMP® Exam in first try without having to even read the PMBOK® Guide once. Unfortunately, there is no definite answer to this question.

A survey of 100 PMP® Exam candidates (who successfully pass the PMP® Exam) has found out that only 5% of them did not read the PMBOK® Guide during their study. That means 95% of the PMP® candidates did read the PMBOK® Guide at least once during their PMP® exam prep. Though it can be safely said that all of the most popular PMP® Exam reference books (like Andy Crowe, Headfirst and Rita) do cover most of the materials in the PMBOK® Guide, the emphases and organisation of the material would be quite different. In particular, since the PMP® Exam tests not about your project management knowledge, experience nor skills but how deep you understand project management from PMI’s perspectives, the PMBOK® Guide is the only place where you can fully understand PMI’s viewpoint in an organised and systematic way. All other PMP® Exam prep books would include the personal viewpoints of the authors.

In order to fully prepare for the PMP® Exam, it can be said that the PMBOK® Guide is indispensable. If you have the time, do read through the PMBOK® Guide at least once. There is no need to read it from cover to cover in one attempt. You can read the PMBOK® Guide together with your PMP® Exam prep book chapter by chapter. Most PMP® Exam prep book would organise the materials according to the sequence as used in the PMBOK® Guide. By reading the PMBOK® Guide and your PMP® Exam prep book in parallel, you can compare the two literatures to understand what are the differences between them in order to have a more comprehensive coverage of the materials required for the PMP® Exam.

Though the PMBOK® Guide is boring (according to most PMP® aspirants), it is a worthwhile read for the PMP® Exam!

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The Project Management Institute provides an online registry to verify one’s certification status: PMI Online Credential Registry at https://certification.pmi.org/registry.aspx

You can fill in the name and other information and check to see if the person is among the list of PMP®s or other PMI Certification holders. There maybe several people with the same name holding PMP® Certification, you will have to also look for the country, etc.

But any PMI Certification holders will have the option of opting out their certification status on the PMI Online Credential Registry. Therefore, if the name does not yield a result in the registry search, it is not an absolute proof that the person is not a PMP®. You will have to check directly with PMI in case of suspecting misuse of the PMP® title.

However, it is generally recommended that PMP® holders should allow showing their profile at the PMI Online Credential Registry which gives stakeholders the certainty that your claim that you are a PMP® credential holder is true to increase the trustworthiness of your skills, etc.

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What is the most realistic mock PMP® Exam one can take? It is to take the mock PMP® Exam at the same centre as one would take the real PMP® Exam.

Prometric, the organisation that runs the PMP® Exam for the computer based test around the world, has launched a new service for test driving the PMP® Exam for PMP® aspirants. The “Test drive” all PMP® aspirants to take a mock PMP® Exam at the Prometric center for 30 minutes for the cost of US$30.

As long as there is a free place in the test centre and you are willing to pay the mock exam fee, you will be able to take the mock exam in real conditions as part of your PMP® Exam prep.

More details on PMP® Exam Test Drive can be found on the Prometric website.

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No. This is one of the popular misconception about contact hour requirements for the PMP® Certification. The PMP® Handbook states that to be eligible for the PMP® Exam, one has to fulfil the 35 educational hours requirement. However, it does not require that you earn all the 35 contact hours from one course only.

 

There is also no requirement that the course material should be about the PMBOK® Guide or other PMI approved project management knowledge. You can earn the 35 contact hours from courses not related to the PMP® Exam syllabus or materials, e.g. Agile project management, etc.

In fact, you can earn 4 contact hours here and 5 contact hours there as long as the total number of hours spent on project management is 35 hours or more. There is not an upper limit for the number of courses you used to accumulate the contact hours as long as you have the proof for each individual course (e.g. attendance certificate, etc.).

But of course it is much more structured to learn all the project management knowledge from a course that focuses on the PMBOK® Guide framework. And such course will help you tremendously in your PMP® Certification exam prep study. If you have the budget and the time to spend on a quality PMP® Exam prep course, do take the PMP® Exam prep course which will help you to pass the PMP® Exam more easily!

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A reader of this blog emailed me asking about what to do when he could not get over 65% in his PMP® practice exams:

I was searching for some materials on PMP® Exam and found your site and works. Very impressive Mind Map!

I am struggling to score above 65% in all my attempts. Because the questions are very confusing sometimes and twisted all around. Sometimes what I believe is the answer turns out not to be that.

I was wondering if you have any advice for me as to how best to prepare and be ready to sit for my final exam.

Appreciate your advise.

Judging from his current situation, I would say that he is still not very familiar with the wording style of the PMP® Exam. The “confusing and sometimes twisted all around” type of questions are in fact included in the PMP® Exam intentionally in order to distinguish between those who barely understand project management and those who have profound knowledge of project management as viewed by PMI. Since he should have already finished studying all the PMP® Exam Prep materials and courses, I would highly advise him to take on more practice exams until tackling “confusing and sometimes twisted all around” questions become his second nature. Below is my reply:

My advice would be: do more practice exams and learn from your mistakes. Write down what has confused you in a notebook and refer to your notebook often. You would be able to see your progress. Though at 65%, you stand a chance to pass the PMP® Exam. It would be best if you would be able to get at least 75% before attempting the real PMP® Exam.

Wish you PMP® success!

As you may see, taking on more PMP® practice exam questions and learning from the mistakes you make are two definite keys for passing the PMP® Exam. Wish you also PMP® success!

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Recently, I received an email asking whether he/she can pass the PMP® Exam if they don’t have working experiences in some aspects of project management. Below is the question:

I came across your PMP® Blog and thought it was interesting and helpful. I am thinking about getting a PMP® certification, but I’m not sure if it would be hard to me to prepare and take.

I’m currently in a project-oriented job, but it doesn’t involve stakeholder management, risk management, procurements, collecting requirements. So technically speaking, it is not a project management job. Do you reckon, if I take the exam, it would be easy to pass just reading the books, studying definitions and maths formulas and taking the 35-hour required course? I’ve seen some sample questions and there are a lot of situational questions (most of which I have never encountered). What would you suggest that I do? Any feedback would be appreciated.

I am sure that many PMP® aspirants do not possess actual working experience in all of the areas mentioned in the PMBOK® Guide, myself included. This would never be a roadblock or show-stopper as most of the knowledge can also be acquired through studying high quality PMP® exam prep courses and exam prep books. As for the “situational questions”, contrary to most belief, situational questions are NOT based on actual working experiences but rather how familiar you can with the wording style of PMI questions.

In fact, the situational questions have little to do with actual working experience, real working environment can never be described with several lines of words. The situational questions are, in practice, much much simplified on the situation. PMI just want to test your understanding of project management processes according to the PMBOK® Guide and will try to word the questions according to a specific project management concept presented in the PMBOK® Guide.

As always, my advice to tackling situational questions is to practice more situational questions on paper. There, it really make sense to write as many PMP® practice exam questions as possible and achieve over 75% in any first attempt. In this way, you will be almost assured a pass in your real PMP® exam!

Below is my answer:

I would say that though many of the questions are situational questions, PMP® candidates will need to answer the questions based on the PMBOK® Guide perspectives, not from actual working experience. You will need to study hard and do many practice exam questions in order to learn the PMI ways of doing project management. I also don’t have much experiences in procurements and risk management aspects.

Hope this helps. Wish you PMP® success!

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In July 2015, the producer of PM PrepCast™ presents three (sort of) new exam prep products for the PMP® Exam, namely:

  • PM PrepCast™ Standard
  • PM PrepCast™ Elite
  • PM PrepCast™ Executive

The three products are not entirely new products, they are the tried and trusted PMP® Exam online prep courses, practice exams and study coach services that are re-packaged and given new names to better reflect the values of the products. In the producer’s own words:

We feel that the names best imply the value of our product/s. It is also easier for students to identify which product fits their needs with these names. So we do plan to change [the names of the products].

PM PrepCast™ Standard (US$179.99)

PM PrepCast™, the popular podcast-type exam prep course for the PMP® Exam for PMP® aspirants to earn the 35 contact hours of project management education and be well prepared for the PMP® exam, is renamed in July 2015 to be “PM PrepCast™ Standard”. There is absolutely no differences between the PM PrepCast™ and the PM PrepCast™ Standard, they are referring to exactly the same PMP® Exam prep course.

PM PrepCast™ Elite (US$229.99 – 18% discount applied)

The PM PrepCast™ Elite is not a new product indeed. It represents the discount bundle of PM PrepCast™ Standard plus the PM Exam Simulator (a US$99.99 value), the popular PMP® practice exam question bank providing PMP® exam aspirants with 1800 mock exam questions to help them pass the PMP® exam with confidence. The PM PrepCast™ Elite is just a new name given to the popular PMP® Exam Prep bundle only.

PM PrepCast™ Executive (US$1199.99 – 28% discount applied)

The PM PrepCast™ Executive is the package of the PM PrepCast™ Elite (PM PrepCast™ + PM Exam Simulator Bundle) together with

  • 12 hours of personal (one-to-one) coaching (US$89.99 per hour)
  • 5 hours of group coaching sessions (US$49.99 per hour)

PM PrepCast™ Executive subscribers also receive the following free gifts:

  • PMP® Formula Study Guide (Formula study guide + Formula brain dump / cheat sheet + 105 formula sample questions) – a US$29.99 value
  • Premium eBook Bundle (PMP® Essentials Study Guide + ITTO Memory Jogger + PMI Exam Audit Kit) – a US$29.97 value

Summary

To put it simple, you refer to the following chart to understand the differences between the PM PrepCast™ Standard, PM PrepCast™ Elite and PM PrepCast™ Executive:

  • PM PrepCast™ Standard = PM PrepCast™
  • PM PrepCast™ Elite = PM PrepCast™ Standard + PM Exam Simulator
  • PM PrepCast™ Executive = PM PrepCast™ Elite + Coaching + Formula Study Guide + Premium eBook Bundle

To most PMP® aspirants, the PM PrepCast™ Elite is the most suitable PMP® Exam Prep package giving you both the required 35 contact hours, lots of good PMP® Exam practice questions as well as the knowledge and tips to pass the PMP® Exam in first try. I highly recommend the PM PrepCast™ Elite as your PMP® examination companion as I have used the PM PrepCast™ to help me pass with 4 proficient levels in the real PMP® Exam.

 

 

* Hope this PM PrepCast™ article will help you to make an informed choice of your PMP® training course. If you find PM PrepCast™ suitable and if you enjoy my PMP® articles, please consider buying it though the links on this page. I will earn a small commission (at NO extra cost to you) to sustain my website costs. Thank you.

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PM PrepCast™ Executive has a price tag of US$1199.99, which is way much expensive than the PM PrepCast™ Standard and the PM PrepCast™ Elite. Though there is a 28% discount applied to the sum of all products included in the PM PrepCast™ Executive, many would wonder is it worth to invested almost 3 times more than the PM PrepCast™ Elite which is already a great PMP® Exam Prep course and question bank.

What are included in PM PrepCast™ Executive

The PM PrepCast™ Executive is the package of the PM PrepCast™ Elite plus a few more:

  • PM PrepCast™ – the highly acclaimed online PMP® Exam Prep course providing 35 contact hours to qualify for the PMP® Exam (US$199.99)
  • PM Exam Simulator – access to 1800 PMP® mock exam questions to be written in an environment that resembles the real PMP® Exam interface
  • 12 hours of live personal (one-to-one) coaching (US$89.99 per hour * 12 = US$1079.88)
  • 5 hours of live group coaching sessions (US$49.99 per hour * 5 = US$249.95)
  • PMP® Formula Study Guide –  which includes the Formula study guide, Formula brain dump / cheat sheet and 105 formula sample questions (US$29.99 value)
  • Premium eBook Bundle – which includes the PMP® Essentials Study Guide, ITTO Memory Jogger and PMI Exam Audit Kit) (US$29.97)

What are the PMP® Live Coaching?

PMP® live coaching will offer you the chance to work with a PMP® coach during  your PMP® Exam preparation through an internet connection in order to maximize your opportunity to pass the PMP® Exam in first try. PMP® live coaching is also the most time-efficient way to prepare for your PMP® Exam as you can get immediate advices from an experience PMP® Exam Coach who will help you to formulate a tailor-made study plan that suit your schedule and style of learning. I still remember I have to “google” hundreds of blogs and webpages in order to understand how to plan for my PMP® Exam and carry out the study.

You will work with the PMP® Exam Coach during your PMP® Exam Prep journey, usually once a week or at a schedule that suits you, all the way from the very beginning of planning the study plan, answer your queries, assess your knowledge gaps and help you to determine whether you are ready for the real PMP® Exam.

Since the PMP® Exam Coach has profound experience in helping PMP® aspirants to study and pass the PMP® Exam, he can offer you valuable tips and tricks to help you attain the PMP® Certification in the shortest time possible.

As the name implies, “Personal Coaching” will allow you to meet one on one with the Coach, all the time is dedicated for you. You can present your case and the Coach will give you personalized advices. You can book the timeslots that are most convenient to you.

On the other hand, in “Group Coaching”, you will join other PMP® aspirants every week at the same time to discuss the common PMP® Exam topics such as:

You will gain the benefits of peer discussion.

Other than the fact that the Coach will meet you through an internet connection instead of meeting you face to face, the PMP® Live Coaching service will offer you all the benefits of PMP® Exam bootcamps.

Who is the PMP® Coach?

The coach is Dan Ryan, MBA, PMP®, who has over 20 years experience in the IT and project management industry. Dan has been delivering face-to-face and virtual PMP® Exam prep courses since 2011. He has pioneered a unique, blended learning solution to tailor to the needs of every individual PMP® aspirant. Dan currently lives in the United States.

Is the PM PrepCast™ Executive Worth the High Price Tag?

Online learning, just like the PM PrepCast™ Standard, offers a cost-effective way to prepare for studying and preparing for the PMP® Exam. However, online courses require you to have excellent disciplines and probably more time as you will need to do researches into the difficult topics yourself. You may also have to waste some time to search for accurate information on the internet. If that describes you, then you are an ideal candidate for the PM PrepCast™ Standard/Elite.

But, if you flourish with the help of an instructor or if you are too busy to do researches on your own, the PM PrepCast™ Executive is the most suitable PMP® Exam prep for your among the different PM PrepCast™ products. The PMP® Coach will assist you all the way from your planning to tackling PMP® practice questions to confirming your readiness to attempt the real PMP® Exam. Try to think of the time saved and the possibility of not having to re-take the PMP® Exam owing to failed attempt, the high price tag is not really that expensive.

In addition, normal PMP® bootcamps will have dozens of PMP® aspirants studying together with you. This means that the course instructor will have to divide his/her attention among all the students in the class. For the Live Personal Coach, you will have the FULL attention of the PMP® Exam Coach for 12 hours! The time should be enough to answer your every questions about the PMP® Exam!

Summary

Below is a simple chart to help you understand the various PM PrepCast™ products on sale in the market:

  • PM PrepCast™ Standard = PM PrepCast™
  • PM PrepCast™ Elite = PM PrepCast™ Standard + PM Exam Simulator
  • PM PrepCast™ Executive = PM PrepCast™ Elite + Coaching + Formula Study Guide + Premium eBook Bundle

The PM PrepCast™ Elite is the most popular PMP® Exam Prep package providing both the required 35 contact hours certificate and lots of good PMP® Exam practice questions.

If you have the time to navigation through the planning processes for your PMP® study through trial and error and discipline to stick to your study plan, I would highly recommend the PM PrepCast™ Elite which is both cost effective and high in quality.

I would like the interactive nature of PMP® Exam Study bootcamps (where you can talk directly to the instructor on any queries you have and have the instructor assist you to plan your study) but there is none around you or  you are too busy to take 5 days off to attend the bootcamp, the PM PrepCast™ Executive would be perfect for you as you can prepare for the PMP® Exam at the comfort of your room or office without the need to travel a lot.

Wish you PMP® success!

 

 

* Hope this PM PrepCast™ article will help you to make an informed choice of your PMP® training course. If you find PM PrepCast™ suitable and if you enjoy my PMP® articles, please consider buying it though the links on this page. I will earn a small commission (at NO extra cost to you) to sustain my website costs. Thank you.

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Following the announcement of updating the syllabus of the PMP® Exam in Nov 2015, every publisher of PMP® Exam Prep book are working extremely hard to get the updated version of the book out to help fellow PMP® aspirants to begin preparing for the new PMP® Exam.

Rita's PMP Exam Prep book 8th Edition updated

Rita’s PMP® Exam Prep book 8th Edition updated

The publisher of Rita’s PMP® Exam Prep book, RMC Learning Solutions, has just announced the updated eighth edition of Rita’s PMP® book will be published by end of July 2015 has been published, has been published: take a look at the preview of the Rita’s PMP® Exam prep book here. The new edition of the PMP® Book includes new tasks and modified knowledge and skills as mentioned in the PMI Role Delineation Study 2015 as well as the new PMP® Exam Content Outline.

This latest version (8th edition) of the Rita’s PMP® Exam preparation book is updated to align with the PMBOK® Guide 5th edition as well as the PMP® Exam Content Outline released in June 2015. PMP® aspirants aiming to take the PMP® Exam on or after 2nd Nov, 2015 are advised to purchase the Rita’s PMP® Book updated 8th edition instead of the original 8th edition.

But as the changes are not considered drastic, PMP® aspirants preparing for the PMP® Exam based on the original 8th edition will still get a pretty good coverage of the new PMP® Exam syllabus as the PMBOK® Guide is still the 5th edition.

Note: If you own the original 8th edition of the Rita’s PMP® Exam Prep and would like to sit for the PMP® Exam after 1st Nov 2015, you are advised to download an update document issued by RMC which covers a few changes to the Rita’s book so that you are good for the new PMP® Exam!

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A visitor of this website has the following questions about PM PrepCast™ and PM Exam Simulator::

  • If I were to devote one hour daily, How long would it take for an average person to complete the course?
  • I was thinking of scheduling the exam date 3 months away from today and start with the PrepCast. Is that a good idea?

My two cents based on my experience are as follow:

  • The PM PrepCast™ lasts for about 50 hours. You will also be requested to read the PMBOK® Guide during the course to reap the best benefits. Altogether that would be around 65 hours (in my case).
  • 3 months is surely enough if you devote an hour or so per day. But:
    • you are advised to practice one 4-hour full length PMP® mock exam several days before your real exam in order to understand your stamina and need for breaks. So you may need to leave at least 4 hours for that day.
    • also, you are advised to finish the PM PrepCast™ a bit earlier in order to obtain the necessary 35 contact hours certificate in order to apply for the PMP® Exam, there are chances that you will be requested for an audit and thus it would take up more than 3 weeks for passing the application alone. The beauty of the PM PrepCast™ is that you can download the video files on your smart phone and listen/watch them while you are on the go. I mostly listen to the lessons while taking the metro.

Hope this would help answering queries of PMP® aspirants on using the PM PrepCast™ for PMP® Exam Prep. Thanks!

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RMC Learning Solutions is now shipping the updated eighth edition of Rita’s PMP® book. The new edition of the PMP® Book includes the updated tasks and modified knowledge and skills outlined the new PMP® Exam Content Outline (for PMP® Exam after 1st Nov 2015 11 Jan 2016).

The good news is that the original 8th edition of Rita’s PMP® book is still valid for the new PMP® Exam, in RMC’s words:

Comparing each line of the 2015 PMP® Examination Content Outline to the previous version published in 2011, RMC has determined the changes were mostly minor, and/or already consistent with our interpretation of the project manager’s role in the existing edition of the book.

In fact, a recent PMP® exam taker has read both the 8th Edition and the 8th Updated Edition from cover to cover and find that basically the Rita’s PMP® 8th Edition =Rita’s PMP® 8th Edition Updated. He passed the PMP® Exam in first try.

Since the changes are NOT dramatic, RMC has issued an additional “update” for owners of the Rita’s PMP® book 8th edition which can be downloaded here.

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According to the data provided by PMI, by the end of 2015 there are 694,534 PMP®s and is growing at a very rapid rate. Considering the fact that in 1998, there were just around 5000 PMP® in the world, the growth of number of PMP® over the 17 years can be considered exponential!

The following is a graph created by Oliver F. Lehmann on the how many PMP®s are there from 1995 to 2015:

How many pmp are there?

How many PMP® are there?

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Below is the step-by-step instruction on how to input the discount offer codes for GreyCampus online courses to get the discounted prices for the ITIL® Foundation, PMP® Certification, PMI-ACP® Certification and PRINCE2® Foundation Certification online courses (click here for the most updated GreyCampus discount offer codes).

Step 1: Click the links below to go to GreyCampus online course website

Step 2: Click the “Enroll” button to go to the payment page

Click the "Enroll" button to go to the payment page

Click the “Enroll” button to go to the payment page

Step 3: Check the “I have an offer code” box

Check the "I have an offer code" box

Check the “I have an offer code” box

Step 4: Input/Paste the Coupon Code/Offer Code there

Input/Paste the Coupon Code/Offer Code there

Input/Paste the Coupon Code/Offer Code there

Step 5: Check the updated price on the left before submitting the Credit Card payment info

Check the updated price on the left before submitting the Credit Card payment info

Check the updated price on the left before submitting the Credit Card payment info

Congratulations! You have just applied the GreyCampus offer code successfully!

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The current PMP® Credential Renewal Fee for every 3-year re-certification cycle is listed below:

  • US$60 for current members of PMI (the membership must still be active on the date of renewing the PMP® Certification)
  • US$150 for no-members of PMI

Note that the PMP® Certification validity period is renewed to 3 years after the original expiry date of the PMP® Certification (NOT from the date of renewing the PMP® Certification).

The PMP® Certification renewal process may be submitted any time during after the 60 PDUs have been collected and no later than 90 days after the re-certification cycle end date, otherwise, the PMP® Certification would be put on hold (the suspension period lasts 12 months after your original expiry date after which your PMP® Certification status would be marked as “expired”) and you will not be allowed to make use of the PMP® designation.

And judging from the saving of being a PMI member (i.e. US$90) and the opportunity to earn FREE PMP® PDUs on projectmanagement.com, it makes sense to become a PMI member by being a PMP® Certification holder.

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In case of emergency or not fully prepared for the PMP® Exam, PMP® candidates are allowed to reschedule PMP® Exam appointment up to 2 days before the scheduled exam date. Fee will apply if you reschedule PMP® Exam within 30 days of your original exam date. If you have not decided the new PMP® Exam appointment date, you will be allowed to cancel your PMP® Exam first and fix another exam date later.

The following is a table for the PMP® Exam reschedule fee:

Period of Reschedule / Cancellation Fee Remarks
30 Days or more before Free
Within 30 Days AND 2 Days before US$70
Within 2 Days PMP® Exam Fee forfeited Treated as “no-show” for the PMP® Exam
Missed the PMP® Exam PMP® Exam Fee forfeited Treated as “no-show” for the PMP® Exam

 

You can reschedule or cancel your exam at any time, as long as you do so more than two full calendar days before your scheduled exam appointment. However, because of limited seating capacity at Prometric Testing Centers, late rescheduling and cancellations will result in a fee. It is recommended that you reschedule or cancel your exam as soon as you know you won’t be able to make the appointment. [quoted from PMP® Handbook]

If you need to reschedule your PMP® Exam within 2 days of the original scheduled exam date, you will have to pay the PMP® Exam re-examination fee and reschedule PMP® Exam within your PMP® Exam eligibility period.

However PMI will consider any reschedule request on compassionate grounds, if the reasons for PMP® Exam reschedule involves “medical emergency, military deployment, death in immediate family, illness in immediate family or natural disaster (but does not include work-related circumstances), PMI will consider whether a waiver of the exam reschedule fee or the forfeited PMP® Exam will be refunded to you. In this case, you will have contact the PMI with all the supporting documents for case-by-case consideration (asap or within 72 hours of missing the PMP® Exam).

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The PMP® Exam has a duration of 4 hours (240 minutes).

The PMP® Exam Format is as follows: there are altogether 200 multiple-choice questions on the PMP® Exam paper. Only 175 of those will be scored for the PMP® candidate while the rest 25 questions are not counted towards the total score as they are “pre-test” questions (questions that are used for research and statistic purposes only). The “pre-test” questions may be much harder than scored PMP® Exam questions. However, PMP® candidates will not know which questions are “pre-test” or not.

Therefore, considering the allocated time of 240 minutes, PMP® candidates will have an average duration of 1 minute 12 seconds to answer each question in theory. However, if you factor in the time for brain dumps at the beginning of the PMP® Exam as well as the 1 to 2 toilet breaks, the average duration for answering each PMP® Exam questions is less than 50 seconds.

As there is no way for PMP® candidates to know which questions are “pre-test”, it is highly advisable for PMP® candidates to set a hard limit for the duration to answer each question lest too much time is spent on a question that is not scored.

By understanding the PMP® Exam Duration and PMP® Test Format, PMP® Certification Aspirants will be more psychologically prepared for the PMP® Exam!

 

Wish you PMP® success!

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The exam syllabus for PMP® Exam is outlined in the PMP® Examination Content Outline which is published by the PMI.

There are 5 domains for the PMP® Exam:

  • Initiating the Project (13% of all PMP® Exam questions)
  • Planning the Project (24%)
  • Executing the Project (30%)
  • Monitoring and Controlling the Project (25%)
  • Closing the Project (8%)

These 5 domains are identical to the 5 process groups of the PMBOK® Guide, many PMP® aspirants would mistakenly think that the PMP® Exam is only about the PMBOK® Guide, which is not totally true.

The PMP® Examination Content Outline also include a number of cross-cutting skills that would be tested on the PMP® Exam.

While the PMBOK® Guide is a document specially written for project management, the PMBOK® Guide itself is not the exam syllabus for the PMP® Exam. The PMBOK® Guide can be treated as a major reference book for the PMP® Exam. It was estimated that the PMBOK® Guide contains around 80% of what would be tested on the PMP® Exam. You will need to know 20% more in order to be fully prepared for the PMP® Certification Exam. Some PMP® Exam prep and reference books (also called PMP® Exam guides) would provide you with the missing contents from the PMBOK® Guide.

The PMP® Exam is a professional exam that tests both the knowledge and experience of the candidates.

Further reading: PMBOK® Guide alone enough for the PMP® Exam?

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[PMI has postponed the new PMP® exam update to 11 January 2016 to allow all stakeholders adequate time to prepare for this change.]

The exam syllabus for new PMP® Exam is outlined in the new version of the PMP® Examination Content Outline (version June 2015) which is published by the PMI.

The percentage of questions to be allocated based on the 5 domains for the PMP® Exam has been adjusted:

  • Initiating the Project (13% of all PMP® Exam questions)
  • Planning the Project (24%)
  • Executing the Project (31%) [+1% compared to the original PMP® Exam]
  • Monitoring and Controlling the Project (25%)
  • Closing the Project (7%) [-1% compared to the original PMP® Exam]

These 5 domains are identical to the 5 process groups of the PMBOK® Guide 5th edition (which has not been updated since end of 2013). The new PMP® Examination Content Outline also include a number new tasks that would be tested on the new PMP® Exam after 1st Novembert 2015 11 January 2016.

The publish of Rita’s PMP® Exam prep book, RMC, has carefully considered the changes in the updated PMP® Exam and came to the conclusion that there is NO need for an updated PMP® Exam prep book in response to the changes in the PMP® Exam syllabus. They just issue a 2-page update document to highlight the changes required (which are very minimal).

Among the various changes, only a major addition on “Process Analysis” was spotted:

Process analysis is another technique that is sometimes used in Control Quality to help identify the potential sources of problems or variance from the plan as part of root cause analysis. Process analysis techniques from methodologies like Lean, Kanban, and Six Sigma can help with this effort. Although you don’t need to be familiar with the details of these techniques (or the methodologies) for the exam, you should nevertheless be aware that these approaches can help with root cause analysis. A faulty or inefficient process could contribute to a problem or variance, so fixing the process may be the best way to solve the problem.

 

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From 31st July 2013 till now, the PMBOK® Guide has been updated to the 5th edition, i.e. the current PMBOK® Guide edition is 5.

For reference, PMBOK® Guide was updated to the 4th edition in 2009, four years earlier. The 6th edition of the PMBOK® Guide will be published in the 3rd quarter of 2017 (the new PMP® Exam based on PMBOK® Guide 6 will commence in the 1st quarter of 2018) and it is safe to prepare for your PMP® exam based on the 5th edition of the PMBOK® Guide.

Further reading: A Short History of the PMBOK® Guide Published by PMI

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The answer is yes. You can register for an account on PMI website without being a paying member and proceed to apply for the PMP® Certification exam online.

But, you may wish to apply to become a PMI member before paying the PMP® Certification exam fee for the following reasons:

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The PMP® Certification Examination Fee differs between PMI members and non-members:

  • PMI Members
    • Computer-based PMP® exam (CBT): USD$405
    • Paper-based PMP® exam (PBT): USD$250
  • For Non-PMI Members
    • Computer-based PMP® exam: USD$555
    • Paper-based PMP® exam: USD$400

For reference, the PMP® re-examination fees for PMI members and non-members are listed as follows:

  • PMI Members
    • Computer-based PMP® exam (CBT): USD$275
    • Paper-based PMP® exam (PBT): USD$150
  • For Non-PMI Members
    • Computer-based PMP® exam: USD$375
    • Paper-based PMP® exam: USD$300

Considering the membership fee for PMI is just USD$129 (plus USD$10 for application fee), it pays off instantly if you just apply for the PMP® Certification Examination. The PMP® exam fee can be settled online with a credit card from major credit card issuers (Paypal is not accepted).

In additional to the PMP® Examination Fee, you will also want to include PMP® Certification training (35 contact hours), practice exams, etc. in your cost estimation.

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Each PMP® aspirant is assessed by PMI through a rigorous process to ensure their competency in project management knowledge and expertise:

  1. Reviewing Education and Industry Experience
    PMP® aspirants are required to demonstrate their working experience as well as formal education in project management. PMP® Certification is for skilled project managers who have actual working experience.
  2. Testing Knowledge about Project Management
    PMP® aspirants are required to demonstrate project management knowledge and expert judgement through mostly situational questions on the PMP® exam which lasts for 4 hours.
  3. Continuous Education and Development
    Maintenance of the PMP® certification requires the accumulation of 60 professional development units (PDU) which must be gained through continuous education and practice in project management.

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PMP® Certification Aspirants should meet the following requirements in order to qualify for the PMP® Certification Exam:

  1. Academic Education
    •  Secondary degree (e.g. high school diploma, associate’s degree) or above
  2. Project Management Experience
    • [Secondary degree holders] at least 5 years of unique non-overlapping professional project management experience with a minimum of 7,500 hours leading and directing projects from the past 8 years; OR
    • [Four-year degree holders] at least 3 years of unique non-overlapping professional project management experience with a minimum of 4,500 hours leading and directing projects from the past 8 years
  3. Project Management Education
    • 35 contact hours of project management education – can be obtained from education institutes through face-to-face or distance learning with end of course assessments
      • face-to-face PMP® courses are the traditional teaching and learning where all the students come together to meet the instructor in a classroom, the course fees are usually quite expensive (in the range of USD$1000 upwards)
      • online distance learning is also recognized by PMI for the 35 contact hours for PMP® Certification, the course fees are usually much lower (in the range of ~USD$200), a good example of online PMP® course is the PM PrepCast™

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What counts:

  • The job role must involve managing and taking care of projects (no need to work with the job title of project manager).
  • You must have working experience in all of the 5 process groups: initiating, planning, directing, monitoring & controlling and closing the project, though it is NOT necessary to have all experience of all the process groups in EVERY project.
  • The definition of “project management” must follow the PMBOK® Guide.
  • The project size and duration does not matter.

What doesn’t count:

  • Carrying out project works only without a leading role in project management.

If your working experiences do not satisfy those as stipulated in the PMP® Handbook , the Certified Associate in Project Management Certification (CAPM®), also offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), may be a good starting point of your PMP® Certification journey.

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Since PMI requires PMP® aspirants to have at least 36 months / 48 months of unique non-overlapping professional project management experience. It is crucial to understand what ‘unique non-overlapping professional project management experience’ means in order to successfully pass the application verification process by PMI.

Ideally speaking, a project manager should focus on one project at a time in order to reap the best efficiency. However, in the real world, busy project managers may need to handled several projects at the same time (which is termed as ‘overlapping project management experience’ according to PMI). Therefore when submitting the project experience during the PMP® application, it is important to select projects that collectively spans at least 36 months / 48 months during which no projects should run concurrently if you just hit the minimum duration. If you select concurrent projects, the experience of each project should be counted as half.

You may also refer to P.10 of the PMP® Handbook published by the PMI for an illustrated explanation of ‘unique non-overlapping professional project management experience’.

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PMI will only recognize project management experience within the last eight consecutive years prior to the PMP® application submission date (not the PMP® Certification exam date).

After you have successfully submitted the PMP® application, you will have up to 1 year to take the PMP® exam.

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In the PMP® application, you are required to write a description for each project you mentioned in your working experience. There is a limit of 500 characters for each project description, and therefore, you should include only the essential information that is required by PMI.

The following are key areas you should include in your project description:

  • a brief description of the project
  • objectives
  • key deliverables
  • project outcome
  • your personal role

Of the above 5 items, “your personal role” is the most critical part of your project description and therefore you should spend more time (and characters) there.

Take note that if your project description is not up to PMI’s standard, PMI will require you to resubmit the project description during the PMP® application completeness checking.

Tips: It is advisable to read the PMBOK® Guide at least once before composing the project description and make use of the project management terms found in the PMBOK® Guide. In this way, PMI will recognize that you *really* understand project management.

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The following is a sample of my project description in the PMP® application form:

Objectives: to develop a mobile website for web presence on mobile devices
Deliverables: the mobile website and documentation

In response to the increasing traffic access from mobile devices, a project for mobile website was initiated by the senior management and I was appointed project leader. As this was a relatively new technology, a lot of time was spent on gathering stakeholder and technical requirements. QA and testing plan were also developed to ensure quality. The deliverables were accepted by the stakeholders in meetings.

I tried to keep the objectives and deliverables short by listing in point form. Also, relevant terminologies from the PMBOK® Guide were used, e.g. stakeholder, testing plan, deliverables, etc.

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Though the paper-based PMP® exam fee is cheaper, not everyone is eligible / would want to apply for the PBT. The followings are the reasons:

  • For individual PMP® aspirants, they should live at least 300km from the nearest Prometric CBT test site in order to qualify for PBT.
  • It takes much longer (maybe up to a month) to know the PMP® test results for PBT (CBT candidates receive the results instantly).
  • Even if you are eligible for the CBT, PMI will need to wait until there are enough candidates in your area to hold the PMP® exam. In other words, you cannot choose (and reschedule) your PMP® exam date as conveniently as the CBT.

For the majority of PMP® aspirants, the computer-based testing (CBT) is the way to go for the PMP® Certification.

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For those who would like to get PMP® certified, one of the major roadblock should be worrying about the level of difficulties of the real PMP® Exam.

PMI has published a PDF file containing 3 official sample PMP® questions to help PMP® aspirants to get a taste of the level of difficulty as well as the wording of the real PMP® Exam questions:

As you will see, in order to correctly answer the PMP® Exam questions, you must get to know the exact meaning of the terms used by PMI. The good news is that all the terms can be found in the PMBOK® Guide. However, the questions also require you (as the project manager) to exercise expert judgement to understand what actions to take next (which is one of the most difficult type of PMP® Exam questions).

You would definitely like to attempt more PMP® Exam practice questions (best of all many quality sample PMP® Exam questions are FREE).

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PMI stipulates “35 contact hours of project management education” as one of its requirements for the PMP® Exam. This is one of the most confusing part for the PMP® application.

The 35 contact hours requirement essential means that:

PMI requires PMP® aspirants to have attended “a course with the primary course contents about project management for at least 35 hours and the course should have a end-of-course assessment“.

PMI recognizes the following two types of education (either one would satisfy PMI’s education requirement):

  • classroom teaching
    • e.g. project management course in University education, dedicated PMP® face-to-face prep courses
  • online PMP® training

For the course contents, there is no restrictions as long as it is about project management. However, it does make sense to choose a course based on the PMBOK® Guide in order to help you best prepared for the PMP® exam.

There are six types of education providers that are approved by PMI to provide the 35 contact hour education:

  • PMI Registered Education Providers (PMI R.E.P.)
  • PMI chapters or communities of practice
  • Employer/company-sponsored programs
  • Training companies or consultants
  • Distance-learning companies (courses including an end-of-course assessment)
  • University/college academic and continuing education programs

Please note that the training provider should be able to provide you with a certificate for the 35 contact hours of project management education which will be needed if your PMP® application is selected for an audit.

You may also hear about “PMI R.E.P.” which stands for PMI Registered Education Providers. The Registered Education Providers are continually monitored by PMI for quality assurance. The courses offered by PMI R.E.P. are pre-approved by PMI, meaning that if you get a PMI audit, you can be assured that your 35 contact hours do meet PMI requirements with the presentation of the course certification only. As for other education providers, you will need to include the course outline and other details as well. Though not necessary, it is best to choose courses provided by PMI R.E.P.

One last point, the 35 contact hours will never expire meaning that if you did a course based on the 1st edition of PMBOK® Guide (currently in its 5th edition), you still fulfill the education requirement for PMP® Certification.

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Yes, PMI recognizes 1 hour of attending a course or training about project management as 1 Contact Hour.

That means the project management course you attend should be at least 35 hours in length.

Or, if you attend an online PMP® exam prep course, the total length of the video / audio lessons plus the course work should be at least 35 hours. You will also need to pass an assessment at the end of the online course to verify that you have actually gone through the online lessons.

You will need to have the course certificate or lettering testifying that you have attended the course / training in order to meet the PMI audit requirements.

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The most convenient and easy way to get 35 Contact Hours for PMP® exam is to take an online PMP® exam prep courses by PMI R.E.P. In addition, online PMP® exam prep courses are much cheaper than PMP® bootcamp or face-to-face PMP® classes.

PMI allows PMP® aspirants to take online courses, there is no need for you to fly all the way to the United States to take a PMP® bootcamp for 5 days. Take the PM PrepCast™ (a downloadable PMP® exam prep course) as an example, you just need to have access to an internet connection in order to download all the lecture videos to your mobile phones / computers on which you can watch the videos anywhere. Once finished watching, you will just need to log on the website to complete the 25-question final exam (which you can attempt as many times as you like). A pass in the final exam will allow you to download the PMP® course certificate for 35 contact hours immediately.

PMP® exam prep courses by PMI R.E.P. are pre-approved by PMI to satisfy the need for 35 contact hours. If you ever get PMI audited, you can rest assured that you can pass the educational requirement by simply presenting a copy of the course certificate.

 

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Yes.

At the time of pressing the submit button on the PMP® application form, you should have already finished the project management course providing you with the required 35 contact hours. You would need to enter the course details together with the date of completion on the PMP® application form before submitting.

Since you are able to store your partially filled online PMP® application form on PMI server, it makes no harms to fill the form while you are still studying the project management course. But you should make sure you have finished the course before submitting the form.

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Since the PMP® is one of the most recognized and rigorous industry certification, PMI takes every application very seriously. PMI will need to inspect every PMP® application individually for completeness. The timeframe for processing the PMP® application differs for different methods of submission:

  • online submission: 5 days (applicants will receive emails from PMI regarding their submission)
  • paper submission: 10 days for individuals; 20 days for corporate submission

If the application is not complete in PMI’s eyes, they will contact the applicants to re-submit parts of the application package (mostly likely to rewrite the descriptions for working experience) before approving the PMP® application.

Note: The confirmation from PMI for PMP® application is not an indication of not requiring a PMI audit. PMI will notify candidates for PMP® audit once the payment for the PMP® exam is made.

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Though PMI impose a 8-year restriction on the project management working experience to be accepted for PMP® application, there is NO restrictions on when you get your project management education.

In other words, the 35 contact hours of project management education is valid for life.

You can literally get the 35 contact hours based on your university coursework or a training course provided by your employer years ago.

There are many cases that a PMP® aspirant took the PMP® exam prep course for the previous edition of PMBOK® Guide and then got busy and abandoned the certification efforts. Years later, they would want to get PMP® certified again and there is no need for them to get the contact hour education again.

However, it is necessary for you to check with PMI on the eligibility of your contact hour certification for the PMP® certification before applying. When in doubt, always bet on the safe side by attending an additional course provided by PMI R.E.P. which will also help you best prepared for the actual PMP® exam.

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No. Self study does not satisfy the education requirements for the PMP® Exam.

As the name implies, the education requirements for the PMP® Certification exam do require you to have “contact”, though the contact method needs not to be face-to-face lectures / classroom teaching.

PMI does recognize the trend of using internet / distance learning in education and allows the 35 contact hours to be gained through online courses.

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No.

Though most PMP® exam prep courses claim that attendees can get ‘Contact Hours’ / ‘PDU’ (just like the online PMP® exam prep course PM PrepCast™), you can actually get either ‘Contact Hours’ or ‘PDU’.

The difference between ‘Contact Hours’ and ‘PDU’:

  • ‘Contact Hours’ are for PMP® aspirants aiming to sit for the PMP® Certification exam. PMP® aspirants will need to have at least 35 contact hours in order to qualify for the educational requirement of the PMP® exam.
  • ‘PDU’ (Professional Development Units) are for current PMP® title holders. Each PMP® will need to accumulate at least 60 PDU in every 3 years in order to be able to ‘renew’ their PMP® Certification.

Further reading: PMP® Certification Candidates Need 35 Contact Hours or 35 PDU?

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As a quality assurance procedure, PMI will select a certain percentage of applications randomly for an audit. An audit is PMI’s way of checking the validity of all the experience / education claimed on the application forms.

For the audit, you will need to submit supporting documents / certificates for the education / working experience entered on the application form within 90 days. The supporting documents should usually include:

The audit package should be send to PMI by regular postal mail or express courier service. PMI does not permit sending the documents through email or fax.

Once PMI receive the audit package, it would normally take 5 – 7 business days to complete the checking and the certification applicant would be notified of the audit results.

Failure to complete the audit would render your certification application unsuccessful. You may request a refund of the application fee (minus $100 processing fee). You will not be allowed to apply for the certification within one year.

Though the PMI audit is not a monster (it is fairly easy to complete and pass the audit), most PMP® aspirants / PMI-ACP® aspirants, by all means, would want to avoid it. However, since the selection for an audit is by random, there is no way to avoid the audit.

Further reading: my PMI audit experience for the PMP® Certification

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The answer is “unknown“. PMI does not disclose the exact percentage of certification applications that get audited. All PMI tells about the PMI audit is PMI selects audit cases by random.

However it is possible to guess the percentage (though quite inaccurate) based on the number of audited applications from the same class of students of PMP® exam prep courses.

It is estimated that:

  • For PMP® Certification, the percentage of getting audited is around 0.5% to 10%
  • For PMI-ACP® Certification, the percentage is much higher at around 10% to 25% (since the number of application is much lower compare to PMP®)

Further reading: I got audited for both my PMP® and PMI-ACP® Certification application.

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I must confess I doubted the “randomness” of the PMI audit before.

I applied to the PMI for both the PMP® exam and PMI-ACP® exam. I got audited for my PMP® application. I fancied that since I got audit for my PMP® application, there would be little chance to be selected for my PMI-ACP® application. But when both my PMP® Certification application form and my PMI-ACP® Certification application form got audited, I am a believer of the random nature of the PMI audit.

But there is an exception to the randomness nature of PMI audit. If you were selected for an audit, failed to return the audit package within 90 days, and then reapplied after 1 year, your application will be re-audited.

In the case of a failed audit, a partial refund will be issued. After the required waiting period before you reapply, you would need to submit another application, forms, and payment, and your application will be re-audited.

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The short answer is: you cannot avoid PMI audit.

PMI states clearly that:

The selection of an application for audit is random.

Since the audit process is random in nature, there is nothing one can do to avoid the PMI audit. All you can do is to get prepared for a PMI audit so that you can pass the PMI audit smoothly:

  1. Get all the education certificate handy
  2. Ask for the prior approval / support of your supervisors / managers for the project management experience (in particular, the working hours you claimed) before entering them into your certification application form

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For the working experience verification forms, PMI requires the supervisors / managers to sign on the forms and put the forms in ‘sealed and signed envelopes‘. The following is the instruction on the PMI audit:

A manager, supervisor, or colleague who is intimately familiar with the experience on your application is required to review your Experience Record and then complete the Experience Verification Form. After they verify, they will put the completed Experience Verification Form and Experience Record in an envelope, sign his/her name over the sealed flap of the envelope, and return the envelope to you via in person or by mail. If one person is verifying multiple projects for the same company, they can fill out one form and initial or highlight on the Experience Record the projects that they are verifying. Faxed or scanned forms will not be accepted as the forms need to be placed in a sealed and signed envelope for security purposes. No substitutions will be accepted.

This paragraph essentially means the following:

  1. Download and print the experience verification forms
  2. Send the printed verification forms, each with an empty envelop, to your managers / supervisors named on your application form accordingly*
  3. Ask the managers / supervisors to write the details on the form and sign, put the signed form into the envelope, glue the flap and sign again across the flap (this makes the ‘sealed and signed envelope’)
  4. Ask them to return the ‘sealed envelop’ to you to be mailed to PMI together with other documentations

* If your manager / supervisor is responsible for more than one experience verification forms, he/she will need to enter the details and signs on one form only and write his/her initials on other forms without filling the details. He/She will then need to put all the experience verification forms into a single envelope and seal it with a signature as usual.

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Not a problem. You just need to write a short notice on the envelope that your manager / supervisor forgot to sign on the envelope for the PMI audit.

Though PMI asks you to request your manager / supervisor to seal and sign across the flap of the sealed envelop in order to properly accomplish the PMI audit, it is possible (or even likely) that your manager / supervisor mails / hands the envelope back to you without the signature on the flap. PMI understands that it might be difficult, if not possible, to return the envelope to get the signature again. It is acceptable to have the experience verification envelope without signature provided that you:

make a note on the back of the envelope in question that the signature was omitted

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Could not find the manager / supervisor named in the PMP® application to sign the experience verification form is the greatest problem PMP® candidates would face.

Don’t panic. Don’t just give up and ask for refund of your PMP® application fee.

Though PMI prefers PMP® candidates to get signatures from the named manager / supervisor, in case this is not possible, PMI does allow:

a colleague from the project can verify, or a current manager or supervisor, who has intimate knowledge of the project, can verify.

Even though you are not able to find your manager / supervisor to sign the experience verification form, you can actually find some others who are close to the project to sign it. That’s why PMI leaves blank on the form the information of the one to verify your experience.

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If you are the manager for the organization, then you may ask your senior management, if possible, to sign your project management experience verification form for you. Other than senior management, you may ask

 a colleague, peer, client or sponsor who has intimate knowledge of the project [to] verify.

PMI does NOT require managers / supervisors to be the only persons to sign the experience verification forms. As long as the signee who are intimately familiar with the project you have submitted, it is okay for them to sign the form. PMI will accept the experience verification in such cases.

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PMI prefers to communicate over email. You may just send your enquires to PMI at customercare@pmi.org

According to my experience, it may take PMI several days to answer your enquires by email.

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After you have settled the payment for the PMP® exam, you will be immediately notified of whether you will need to pass the PMI audit (it makes sense to pay the PMP® exam fee online).

PMI will allow up to 90 days for your to finish the audit package and mail back to PMI. Though PMI does not indicate whether the 90 days include postage time, it is believed PMI counts the stamp date rather than the date of arrival of the audit package at PMI.

After PMI has received the audit package, it will send out an acknowledge email of the receipt of the audit package.

It will take PMI another 5 to 7 business days to inspect the audit package and grant approval on your PMP® application. You will receive another email informing you that you have passed the PMI audit and your 1-year exam eligibility period will begin now.

Note: In practice, the acknowledge email and the audit pass email may arrive roughly at the same time according to my own experience. So, don’t worry, if you do not receive the acknowledge email in normal postage time. 

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